Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sprouts Against the Patriarch

We will always be wild

Here goes an artist… WITH HUNGER

THIS PAST THURSDAY OCTOBER 22 when they were in the dining room, the boarding students from the Superior Institute of Arts (!SA), realized they were slowly starving to death: a tiny serving of ground vegetable protein, four spoonfuls of rice, and an innovative “stew” made from leftover split pea soup from previous days (all mixed up, as the poet Nicolás Guillén would say, and in another bad interpretation, in this case by the school cook).  The students decided, on principle, to protest artistically; on the tables, with spoons and glasses, they improvised a conga of “It’s good now,” and “The abuse is about to end,” (as was said in earlier days by the talented J. Formell in his famous concert for “peace”).  With the adrenaline, the voracious appetite and the desire to make art, but not debilitate their bodies, they began to raise the pitch, and as always happens (Prague 1968, Tlatelolco Plaza, Mexico, 1968, Tienanmen Square, 1989), a small wave of young people turned into a tsunami.  Now, in wholly Socialist Cuba, voices were added, a great chorus resounded within the walls, and they left to walk the hallways of the school.

The Rector asked for talks with the rebels in the theater.  After the young people debated whether or not to accept, they agreed to talk.  The Rector, after hearing from his students about the awful life they are surviving “for the love of art,” explained that it wasn’t within his power to improve conditions, which he justified on the basis of the blockade, the global economic crisis, and everything he could come up with to serve as an excuse to escape unharmed from that riot and manage to stop it.  In the end, as a last resort, he warned that later they would be responsible for their positions and actions.  He demanded that they not get carried away.

The students, dissatisfied with the justifications of the Rector, were aware of the riot at the University of Santiago de Cuba, coincidentally also in the fall, October 2006, in which, after assuring them that things would change, they expelled most of the protestors.  So that the same thing wouldn’t happen here, the ISA students decided to call a revolt for the next day.  Around 130 students (10% of the overall enrollment but 50% of the boarding students who are most affected).  They expressed their dissatisfaction through art in the school’s esplanade, costumes, songs, poetry, theater.  The young leaders of the Young Communists Union (UJC) and the University Student Federation (FEU), tried to stop them.

After that it is known that political leaders visited the school, some arriving in a Chinese military jet

In the first three days they put lights in the school corridors.  They increased the lunch, but did not improve the food.  And they waited.  They are closely watching every move of the administration of the school.  These young artists are now worried that there will be reprisals.

But they are sure of something, they told me, if it affects one of us we are planning a hunger strike.

While waiting, the long march continues.

The photos were taken by Ángel Santiesteban, please cite the source.

My Intellectual Friends

MY WRITER FRIENDS TELL ME that to do a blog is to do politics, that I must confine myself to literature, this is the way to defend it, continuing to publish in my country, surviving with the status of a writer.  That walking around on the Internet is a way to lead myself into the swamp, evasive, illegal, free-willed, to turn into a wild animal.

My creator friends think that to publish what you think is to be involved in politics.  They assure me that my books denounce more than an opposition political party.  That first of all I need to think about my work, then my readers, the culture, myself.

My literary friends create conflicts in me: I do not want to do politics.  What I want most is to defend my literature.  But how to gag my mouth?… Silence the spontaneous scream?  If I tell stories it is because my stories write themselves, they jump out at me, independent, making fun at times of my absence.  Nor do I ask them to be grateful.  I just finish what they put there, act as a scribe, give “life” to those who have always existed, a kind of Geppetto who forges, from pure emotion, the characters of a secretly hidden reality.

My learned friends receive publicity and their books are republished.  They agree to be jurors on contests they never won.  They applaud when the news cameras approach.  Go to Book Fairs in distant countries, cultural places they dream of visiting, but in payment I could not give more than my creative honesty.

My erudite friends say I can’t complain, that despite my anti-establishment literature I have had more opportunities than they’d have had if they’d tried it in their time.  That in exchange I must be quiet, accept that they marginalize me, and show my gratefulness at all times for the space I inhabit, and for their kindness in not suppressing me.  So I might even deceive them, they say, beg forgiveness for my literature, a kind of complicity between official and writer.  To make their job easier, I think.

My skilled friends want to take a cynical attitude, as their way of protecting me, as they have done to protect their own existence.  But as much as I explain this venture into a blog as a way to continue my role as a spectator and writer, they can’t understand.  They toss me a look that says, “There you go, don’t complain when they show you the instruments.”

My illustrious friends are admired by me: I don’t have their capacity to stay quiet.  I don’t have their resistance to the sound of silence.  I don’t enjoy it when they throw bread crumbs but not the bread.  At times, I envy them, because only I know what perks I reject, in exchange for all the disdain I receive.

My thinking friends will have to accept me as I accept them.